Early Access is certainly crowded, but most of the titles hedge upon the current trends toward crafting, survival, and roguelike mechanics. It’s partly due to this homogenization that titles like Glitchspace stand out, but Glitchspace would stand out regardless. This first-person puzzle platformer takes the unique slant of basing puzzles around programming. Don’t let a lack of coding knowledge scare you off though, as it’s not nearly as tough as it may seem.
As this is an Early Access title, there’s no manual or robust tutorial to get you acclimated. Clicking on Story Mode from the main menu simply drops you into a weird, geometric landscape and explains the controls. You have a gun that can manipulate the environment’s programming. This doesn’t grant you complete access to the world, but simply the red shapes perched on the otherwise white, bluish-tinged landscape.
Although developer Space Budgie has stated an intent to tweak the aeshetics, they already seem on-point. Seeing the stark red against a blue and white background creates a vibe reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge. Of course, the wholly rectangular world is also quite striking. If anything could use some tweaking it’s probably the programming menu, which can be cumbersome to navigate at times.
To interact with an object, you right-click on it and a flow chart appears. This flow chart shows programming for the particular object. For example, there is a square representing the “main object” and the features related to it such as its size and weight At first, messing with the red cubes may seem daunting because there’s a total lack of explanation and no built-in definition bank with the Glitchspace. Mess around a little, though, and you’ll get it.
A red block in your path almost always means you must manipulate its programming in some fashion to proceed. The stages are very linear in design; try to go a different way and you’ll just fall off the world. Initially the puzzles also seem to have only one solution. This is because any time you click on an object there are a limited amount of modifiers you can apply. This bank of functions changes per object. Similarly, the default flow chart for each object is typically locked in some places, meaning you can’t fashion your own answer with 100% freedom.
The restrictive puzzle nature of Glitchspace may frustrate seasoned programmers but proves to be a great choice for the rest of us who lack experience. You never have to actually “write” code, you just tweak variables in a visual scripting window and hope for the best. Learning what each thing does might come slowly but eventually you get a grasp of how to cause shapes to expand, shrink, bounce you around, and more. Players might also come away with increased awareness of coding logic, which is a nice bonus.
Right now playing through all the puzzles takes around an hour on average. Additional stages are being added as they’re made. Right now, Space Budgie suggests the full version of Glitchspace will be two to three hours. They also plan to have Sandbox mode, which is not accessible as of alpha 1.6. Every once in a while you’ll encounter actual glitches, but for the most part the game is fluid, especially for an early build.
With all that said, the current puzzles feel incredibly rewarding to solve. It just feels like everything ends too soon. Once Story Mode is fleshed-out and Sandbox is implemented you’ll have more reason to jump into Glitchspace. It’s a cool concept, but I have a feeling it’ll be far cooler once it’s finished. You might want to wait and experience it all fresh at launch.